New treatment for the chronically depressed

Sep 01, 2009
An Adelaide Clinic staffer demonstrates the transcranial magnetic stimulation treatment for depression.

(PhysOrg.com) -- A University of Adelaide study has found that mild and repeated doses of magnetic brain stimulation can be an effective treatment for chronic depression.

Psychiatry Professor Cherrie Galletly says 38 patients with a have shown a clear improvement after undertaking treatment with magnetic brain stimulation for 30 minutes at a time.

"At the start of the study, all participants met the criteria for moderate to and most had contemplated suicide," Professor Galletly says. "After treatment, 12 patients had made a full recovery and many others showed significant improvement. A six-month follow up of 11 patients showed the improvement was sustained."

The ongoing study, conducted at the Adelaide Clinic, involves people who have severe, long-term depression lasting up to 20 years. In 87% of cases, the participants had trialled five or more .

"Preliminary results indicate that 12 transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) treatments, given three days a week over a month, may be sufficient to achieve good results," Professor Galletly says.

The procedure involves placing an electromagnetic coil near the of a patient's scalp for half an hour. The magnetic energy stimulates the region of the brain which is involved in mood regulation and depression.

"The advantages of TMS are that, unlike electro convulsive treatment, no anaesthetic is required and there is no associated cognitive impairment," Professor Galletly says. "The only side effects that patients have experienced are slight headaches due to the effect of the pulsing magnet on their scalp. This can be alleviated with a simple headache tablet."

Professor Galletly says there are no medications involved with the procedure. However, most patients are taking antidepressants and can remain on these during TMS treatment. Only people referred by a psychiatrist are accepted for treatment and TMS is restricted to people with private health cover as it is not reimbursed by Medicare at this stage.

Although TMS has been available in the United States and Europe for some time, the procedure has only been available in South Australia in the past 12 months.

"There has been a lot of interest from psychiatrists in Australia because it has been a long time since we have seen new treatments for depression. This is a very exciting development for the profession," Professor Galletly says.

Provided by University of Adelaide (news : web)

Explore further: Research on guilt-prone individuals has implications for workplace

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Portable device effective in zapping away migraine pain

Jun 26, 2008

novel electronic device designed to "zap" away migraine pain before it starts has proven to be the next form of relief for those suffering from the debilitating disease, according to a study conducted at The Ohio State University ...

Recommended for you

Mindfulness helps teens cope with stress, anxiety

39 minutes ago

As the morning school bell rings and students rush through crowded corridors, teenagers in one Portland classroom settle onto mats and meditation pillows. They fall silent after the teacher taps a Tibetan ...

Study links suicide risk with insomnia, alcohol use

3 hours ago

A new study is the first to show that insomnia symptoms mediate the relationship between alcohol use and suicide risk, and that this mediation is moderated by gender. The study suggests that the targeted ...

Echolocation acts as substitute sense for blind people

9 hours ago

Recent research carried out by scientists at Heriot-Watt University has demonstrated that human echolocation operates as a viable 'sense', working in tandem with other senses to deliver information to people with visual impairment.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.